ICYMI: The F1 #AustrianGP Edition Roundup.

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The Roundup returns after a one-race break! The Austrian hills may not have come alive with the sound of (engine) music, but the Dutch contingent made sure to paint the town orange that weekend…

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A third DRS Zone was added in a bid to help overtaking:

Test yourself with this Austrian GP quiz:

Nico Hulkenberg looks really good in a…dress?

All four F1 rookies have previously raced on this track. Which one will impress the most?

Looks like the Mercedes lineup will be unchanged for 2019…

In things you never thought you’d read again: Kimi Raikkonen back to…McLaren?!

He doesn’t want to talk about it, though…

Updated PU Elements used by drivers pre-Austrian GP:

Pierre Gasly drove a badass KTM X-Bow around the Ring in an exhibition run:

Can Daniel Ricciardo notch a (positive) record on his birthday?

Max Verstappen has a special helmet for the weekend:

FP1: Sebastian Vettel & Stoffel Vandoorne almost collided in the pitlane. Yikes.

F1 teams want even less testing for next year…

McLaren then got fined for Vandoorne’s FP1 unsafe release:

That’s a lot of Freddos.

FP2: Pierre Gasly broke his suspension after riding a kerb, causing a Red Flag.

Spotted: Bernie Ecclestone in the paddock!

Perhaps he was waiting for his backgammon buddy, Seb Vettel?

Haas were also investigated for Kevin Magnussen’s unsafe release:

In really weird things to do at the Paddock:

Udderly ridiculous.

Meanwhile, The “Charles Leclerc to Ferrari 2019” talks have gone into overdrive:

FP3: It’s now Brendon Hartley who gets caught out by the kerb

Max’s car wasn’t very cooperative:

The Universal Fave Charles Leclerc, got a 5-place grid penalty for an unauthorized gearbox change

Quali: Vettel was put under investigation after seemingly blocking Carlos Sainz on a hot lap:

Drama at Red Bull, when Max was ordered to overtake Dan to give him a tow, but refused:

Meanwhile, the McLaren pitbox line has been…angled?

Ron Dennis just shuddered at the sight of that photo.

Valtteri Bottas coolly took pole, & then celebrated with…ice cream.

Magnum and Finns: A Winning Combination.

Vettel took a 3-place grid penalty for the incident vs Sainz. Opinion among fans and experts were divided. Were the stewards robbing the fans of a fair title fight?

Raceday:

Toro Rosso had to fit a new PU on Hartley’s car, demoting him to P20 on the grid:

The Red Bull drivers don their usual lederhosens for their home race:

#Fashion.

Fernando Alonso started from the pitlane after a late front wing change:

Ex-F1 driver Ant Davidson explains the buttons on the Mercedes steering wheel:

That three-way fight at the opening lap got fans yelling. Just look at that balls-to-the-wall racing!

Nico Hulkenberg was surprisingly the first to retire, though through no fault of his own:

From poleman to nowhereman. Bottas was forced to retire after a hydraulic failure:

Misfortune also struck the birthday boy, as Ricciardo retired due to a gearbox issue:

An odd stat for birthday boys in F1:

He got a pretty snazzy birthday cake from Red Bull, if it’s any consolation:

The Move of the Day: Sebastian Vettel’s thrilling overtake on championship rival Lewis Hamilton:

Seven laps from the end, Hamilton was also forced to retire. Shocker!

The stats on Mercedes retirements:

Max Verstappen and his lion helmet roared to a win, and recreated the same podium as his 1st win in Spain:

More Max stats:

He was voted DoTD:

Safe to say the Dutch fans who turned out in droves to support Max were pleased.

Kimi Raikkonen took a solid P2, and snatched the Fastest Lap, his 1st of the 2018 season:

The Sauber boys had a good race, too. Yes, not just Leclerc, Ericsson joined in on the party as well!

Haas finally got a break, and took their best finish so far this year:

Let’s not forget Fernando Alonso’s mega pitlane to P8 drive:

Just waiting for his quote saying it’s his best career drive…

Carlos Sainz got a reprimand post-race for the incident with Esteban Ocon:

Lance Stroll and Sergio Perez got investigated for an incident involving blue flags:

Stroll got a 10 second penalty and 3 penalty points:

Fans weren’t such…fans of the virtual advertising:

There seems to be a developing bromance between Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen:

#Sax? #Vetstappen?

The new Driver standings:

And the Constructor’s:

A new record for F1:

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How close is this Championship turning out to be?

They go again in a few days’ time, when F1 is “coming home”. Silverstone, you have a lot to live up to!

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ICYMI: The F1 #CanadianGP Edition Roundup.

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Loads of F1 fans made it perfectly clear they found the Monaco GP insufferably boring. Surely Montreal won’t disappoint? Well…

10 years after his first and only win in F1, Robert Kubica talked about that accident in Montreal, missing his trophy, wanting to buy the race-winning car, and more:

Some Canadian GP Fast Facts for the geeks:

Toro Rosso continue their legacy of fickleness with drivers, as they allegedly look to replace Brendon Hartley midseason:

Ferrari posted a pre-GP video on Twitter, and CBC Montreal called them out for not doing proper geographical research:

This weekend marked Fernando Alonso’s 300th grid appearance:

One of the many reasons fans love this GP:

Wanna see hometown driver Lance Stroll make poutine?

More changes being considered for F1… *cue loud groaning from fans*

Meet the official mascot of the Canadian GP: VROUM!

Drivers now have to give even more prerace interviews. I’m sure Kimi Raikkonen is thrilled to hear this.

Max Verstappen? He ain’t changing anything, so save your shade!

Also. He kinda wants to channel his inner Zidane…?

Contrary to earlier reports, Daniel Ricciardo didn’t take an engine penalty for the weekend:

Who would the Renault drivers invite to their dream dinner party?

FAO Danill Kvyat fans! Here’s your man clad in Ferrari gear, making his first appearance at a GP this year:

Fellow ex-F1 driver Pascal Wehrlein also visited the GP to lend support to the Mercedes garage:

Drivers who are on the verge of grid penalties: *dun dun dunnnnn*

FP2: Ricciardo’s car got taken apart by his team, sending his fans worrying:

Carlos Sainz Jr hit a wall and caused a Red Flag:

Stoffel Vandoorne also touched the wall and caused a Yellow Flag:

Ricciardo made it to the track though with 20 minutes to go. Talk about a close call!

Hang on. Did Romain Grosjean really hit a groundhog?

He did. The aftermath:

Romain had to go apologize to Vroum!

Thankfully, Vroum forgave him.

Brendon Hartley got fined for speeding in the pitlane:

Fernando Alonso is his own hype man:

Plenty of Austin Powers memes were used on social media when Stoffel Vandoorne couldn’t quite get his McLaren out of the escape road in FP3:

Did Sebastian Vettel really nick his ex-boss’ phone?! Sneaky Seb!

Qualifying: Nico Rosberg demonstrated to Ted Kravitz one of the many pressures/forces the bodies of racing drivers have to endure:

Romain Grosjean had a problem even before he left the pitlane, and look who was behind him…

Marcus Ericsson joined the party and made contact with the wall:

Meanwhile, his teammate Charles Leclerc tied yet another Sauber record by making it into Q2 for the 4th time:

He didn’t look to be a strong contender during the practices, but Sebastian Vettel stormed to pole, and registered the first Ferrari pole in Montreal since Michael Schumacher’s back in 2001!

Max Verstappen took P3, and could not resist giving his boss some sass on team radio:

Qualifying in 60 seconds:

Vettel gets his 4th Pirelli pole tire. He can now kit a go-kart with them!

Sky’s Crofty attempted to do The Floss, which really put off Alonso doing the same:

Leave the dancing to the kids!

F1 Teams (all barring Ferrari) gathered round for the much-anticipated annual raft race. Williams took a surprise victory!

Relive the raft race here:

Raceday: 1997 World Champion Jacques Villeneuve drove his father’s Ferrari, and what a sentimental moment that was:

The opening lap brought a rather scary crash that took out Brendon Hartley and Lance Stroll:

Carlos Sainz and Sergio Perez subsequently had a tussle, which sent Perez asking for Sainz to be black-flagged:

Nope, the tussle wasn’t anywhere near worthy of a black flag.

Not sure how many mirrors Alonso has broken recently, but his car continued to be uncooperative, and his 300th race ended in retirement.

Nico Rosberg wasn’t happy with the lack of on-track action, and so he decided to hold an #AskNico session on Twitter midrace and spilled some scorching hot tea, particularly on Fernando Alonso:

Savage. Check his Twitter account for his other hottakes.

Model Winnie Harlow became the subject of the race’s biggest talking point when she waved the checquered flag too soon:

Look at this close finish between P2 and P3. Had the checquered flag not been waved prematurely, we would have gotten a mega battle from Bottas and Verstappen!

Poleman Vettel did not put a foot wrong, and he got away with the most spoils this weekend:

Bottas and Verstappen both comfortably beat their teammates. Leclerc continued to impress by notching up a point and erasing his Monaco GP nightmare.

Race winner Vettel saw the funny side of the Checquered Flag-Gate:

Winnie Harlow explained her side, complete with the reference to the iconic Shaggy song!

Because of the snafu, Ricciardo’s Fastest Lap did not count and the official Fastest Lap went to his teammate Verstappen instead. Poor Dan!

Brendon Hartley was medically-cleared after his first lap shunt:

The Canadian GP in 60 seconds:

And the Tweet of the Race:

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We go into the “unknown” next: Can the Paul Ricard Circuit spring a surprise on us? For the meantime, go check out the numerous debates on the shortcomings of modern day F1 on social media. If for anything, you’ll get a laugh on how hilariously myopic and entitled some of the “fans” are. You’re welcome.

ICYMI: The F1 #ChineseGP Edition Roundup.

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Three words: What. A. Race!

However, let’s back up a bit, shall we?

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Kimi Raikkonen proved his unparalleled popularity in China yet again:

F1 driver or rockstar? You decide.

Bonus: Here’s Kimi saying ‘I love you’ in Chinese:

This is the content you never knew you needed.

Sebastian Vettel engaged with the fans at the airport, and encouraged them to sing Happy Birthday to his trainer Antti:

Fernando Alonso opened a branch of his FA Karting School in China. It’s a pretty huge step, and hopefully will help find a future Asian F1 Champion!

Lewis Hamilton officially launched his collaboration with American Fashion Brand Tommy Hilfiger. The logo actually looks quite cool.

Following the hoopla over Dickheadgate last Bahrain GP, Lewis and Max Verstappen looked to have cleared the air. Lewis said he will be more careful now over what he says:

Former McLaren and Red Bull driver, and now C4 F1 Pundit David Coulthard will have a new book out this May, focusing on the leadership, motivation, and business aspects of F1:

Remember Pierre Gasly’s Alonso-esque “Now we can fight!” radio message to his team post-Bahrain GP? He had to explain that it was meant to give credit to Honda, after some Spanish and Alonso fans apparently sent him negative/abusive messages on social media:

Come on, now. Leave Pierre alone!

The much-anticipated F1 TV will finally launch the weekend of the Spanish GP. Want to know if you can enjoy it from your country? Check out the list below:

Would you like to know the favorite songs of the Alfa Romeo Sauber drivers, Marcus Ericsson and Charles Leclerc? Would you like to hear them sing? Of course you do.

Speaking of things that are difficult to forget, these F1 Driver…3D Caricatures(?)/Mascots are honestly something else. I for one cannot unsee them.

During Qualifying, Sebastian Vettel snatched pole from his teammate Kimi Raikkonen, and took the new track record at Shanghai.

Ferrari also broke a long-standing drought, registering their 1st back-to-back front row lockout in 12 years!

Nico Hulkenberg seems to have an affinity with P7, judging from his last 6 grid positions…

Raceday: Mercedes gave Ferrari a dose of their own medicine via Valtteri Bottas undercutting Vettel. How do you say “Take That!” in German?

The two Toro Rossos suffer a surprise collision, with Brendon Hartley’s car coming off worse and spewing debris onto the track. Pierre Gasly promptly complained on Team Radio about his teammate closing doors…

Polesitter and erstwhile race leader Sebastian Vettel was already trying to salvage a screwed-up race, but Max Verstappen thought he can make Seb’s race worse by diving for an overtake when there wasn’t enough room. The 2 cars collided and did synchronized spinning. Ferrari fans were not amused.

Overtake of the Race goes to Ricciardo on Hamilton. Scratch that, it goes to Ricciardo vs Bottas. Actually, let’s just have ALL of Dan’s overtakes as the highlights of the race. Bold, but clean–that’s how it should be done!

Dan “I don’t seem to win boring races” Ricciardo celebrated his victory by bringing back the infamous Shoey:

Kimi actually looked mildly amused on the podium! Sadly, Dan didn’t dare offer him a Shoey.

Meanwhile, fans who expected fireworks post-race were disappointed when they saw how calm Vettel and Verstappen were while discussing their ontrack tussle:

Max has admitted that he was at fault for the incident, and that he had already apologized to Sebastian.

Expectedly, Ricciardo also won Driver of the Day. There really was no contest!

This is basically the race in a tweetshell:

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The first three races have been mad in their own special ways–perhaps we need a nice, steady race to calm us down? Oh wait, Baku is up next…

ICYMI: The F1 #BahrainGP Edition Roundup.

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That break between Australia and Bahrain felt like forever, didn’t it?

Thankfully, F1 is back, and is crammed with more talking points than ever:

Pierre Gasly spills the tea on why he and Esteban Ocon are not friends anymore:

Speaking of Esteban Ocon, a random Twitter discussion on his mysterious famous lookalike led to the discovery of his incredibly long full name:

Who knew he had a mouthful of a name? (Source: French Wikipedia)

Back to Gasly, apparently, his big masterplan to attract good racing results is to not shave until the end of the season:

Sebastian Vettel arrived at the circuit on Thursday carrying a mysterious briefcase, and nobody knows what that was about:

Update: Autobild has confirmed the briefcase contained his Backgammon board!

Looks like the grid girls may be back–for Monaco and maybe even Sochi.

*sighs and judges in multiple languages*

And it seems there’s another driver (aside from Nico Hulkenberg) who wants the grid girls back:

Have you ever wondered how the F1 2018 grid will look like as ONE driver? Of course you have. Wonder no more, thanks to Reddit:

During a lull in FP1, Kevin Magnussen provided further proof he’s kind of obsessed with Balls…

The F1 Teams met on Friday to decide on the new rules starting 2021. Below is an outline of what has been decided:

Nothing too exciting or groundbreaking. Yet.

Both Red Bulls retired within the first few laps of the GP: Verstappen limped back to the pits with a puncture after a 1st lap tussle with Hamilton, while Ricciardo ended up parking the car minutes after the green light due to loss of power. The double retirement effectively ended Red Bull’s 38-race point-scoring streak.

Kevin Magnussen’s language was as colorful as ever, complaining about his teammate cutting him off and holding him up during midrace. He managed to finish P5.

Kimi Raikkonen unfortunately hit a Ferrari mechanic on his pit stop, and was released without the Left Rear tire getting replaced.

The mechanic, Francesco Cigarini, sustained a shinbone and fibula fracture:

Update: Francesco’s surgery went well, and he is now recovering.

And for those who think Kimi’s a heartless bastard, he’s already left a comment on Francesco’s post!

Ferrari was fined €50,000 for Kimi’s unsafe release.

Marcus Ericsson of Sauber finally scored his first couple of F1 points after 50 races of trying! Now it’s up to Leclerc to step up.

Pierre Gasly took home his Toro Rosso in P4, 48 whole seconds ahead of Fernando Alonso’s McLaren, and expertly trolled him by quoting him at the end:

Aside from being voted by the fans as Driver of the Day, Gasly has also now joined an illustrious club:

Fernando Alonso will be comforted by the fact that he is currently sitting P4 at the WDC table, ahead of Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen!

Lewis Hamilton called Max Verstappen a “dickhead” while watching a replay of their tussle on the cool down room:

(Vettel’s reaction: Priceless!)

Of course he got asked about it in the post-race press conference, and Sebastian Vettel surprisingly defended his rival:

Even Mark Webber approves!

Sergio Perez and Brendon Hartley both got sanctioned for what seemed to be one of the most polite ontrack battles in recent years:

F1 is so flabbergastingly strange, sometimes!
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Well then, China should be fun!

ICYMI: The F1 #AusGP Edition Roundup.

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We’ve officially survived the season-opener!

While it’s easy to get lost in the hundreds of articles recounting the race and post-race events, I’ve decided to compile a list of raceday’s interesting and real talking points, you know, the stuff that truly matters most?

No need to thank me, I do this all for love.

Überraschungssieg means “surprise victory” in German. Which is a fitting description for Sebastian Vettel’s masterstroke. From P3 to P1 in a difficult-to-overtake-in track? Sorcery*! Now try to pronounce that German word quickly five times in a row. You’re welcome.

(*More like luck + a well-timed pitstop under the VSC.)

Speaking of Vettel, his “signature dance” from last year was notably absent from his post-race celebrations, but not to worry, The Finger made a very visible comeback.

Nico Rosberg officially began his punditry career in F1–with stints in both RTL and Sky Sports F1–and still managed to take the time to introduce himself to a young F1 fan who had no idea who he was:

The grid kids made their debut. Just look at them in their snazzy F1 race suits! Hopefully there will be more diversity in the coming races. And admit it, did you even notice the absence of the grid girls?

A sandwich bag may be at fault for Sergey Sirotkin’s retirement from his first F1 race. And no, I cannot confirm whether it was of Polish origin or not.

A faulty drink tube nearly made Carlos Sainz Jr. vomit inside his helmet during the race. The said faulty tube was forcing the poor guy to drink too much water, and coupled with the G-forces he was enduring, Sainz experienced nausea but thankfully overcame it in time. Todo bien.

Update: Sainz later claimed a “poisoned banana” was the cause of his problems during the race. Yes, you read that right.

Kimi Raikkonen thinks his P3 finish is “Ok”.

He also owned his brand by posting an Iceman pic on his IG story.

(You really should get Instagram by now–following Kimi is so worth it.)

Also, did Kimi’s wife just shade his team Ferrari in her own IG story…?

The new graphics were generally well-received, until the battle of Lastname vs Lastname appeared on the telly and made social media crazy. And yes, that became an actual trending topic. Lastname FTW!

Charles Leclerc’s debut was much-anticipated but surprisingly ignored by the race directors. As in he was never shown driving his Sauber during the race broadcast at all. Leclerc can take comfort in the fact he’s got the best pose in the new starting grid graphics, though. Can you say swag?

The Haas drivers were actually having a good race. As in P4 and P5 good. Until they didn’t, as a result of 2 botched pit stops. Romain Grosjean’s parenting skills took center stage as he took his time to comfort his colleagues, while Kevin Magnussen found a perfect book to console him.

Some people on Twitter actually believed that Haas sabotaged the races of both their drivers so Ferrari can win. Come on, guys. Seriously?!

Hometown fave Daniel Ricciardo overcame his grid penalty, made up 4 positions to finish P4 and took the 1st Fastest Lap Award. He had quite an exciting cat-and-mouse chase with Kimi Raikkonen and dropped another quotable line (Ricciardoism?) in, “I don’t wanna let him breathe”. Erm, if that is your kink Dan, we won’t judge.

Both McLaren cars finished the race. And in the points! Sadly, the Toro Rosso-Honda partnership got off on a rocky start, as Pierre Gasly had to retire due to a PU issue, and Brendon Hartley limped home bringing up the rear.

Red Bull Racing took the Fastest Pit Stop Award. Surprisingly, Mercedes only ranked 10th. A blip in the famous German Efficiency?

Someone not named Max Verstappen won Driver of the Day. Who could it be? It’s the Papaya King himself, Fernando Alonso!

Nico Hulkenberg still wants the grid girls back. And made a Tom & Jerry comparison to emphasize his point. Oh deer. Just let it go, Hulk. It ain’t worth it.

Nine out of the Top 20 Worldwide Trends on Twitter, within an hour of the race finish, were F1-related. And they say F1 Fans are losing interest?

Giant cardboard driver faces are a little bit terrifying, but also hilarious. Are those an in thing this season, now?

(P.S. Where do I get some?)

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Darn it, Bahrain is now going to feel like a lifetime away.

The Alternative Guide To The 2018 F1 Grid.

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The countdown is on. Within a few days, the F1 Circus will wreak havoc in our lives (and body clocks) yet again, and oh how we love it!

Let’s get to know the twenty drivers who will take part in this year’s championship, not by stats or scientifically-measured data (come on, surely you can easily Wikipedia them), but by the common perceptions (and misconceptions) they are known within social media*:

(*N.B. Remember to take these with a humorous grain of salt! )

Lewis Hamilton

#Blessed. Defending Champ. Menswear Ambassador of Tommy Hilfiger (i.e. He gets to rub elbows with Gigi Hadid). Resident Fashionista of F1. The British Racing Messiah. Will most likely dominate again if rivals don’t step up. Pawrent to dogs Roscoe and Coco. Shows off his abs on Instagram. Still not friends with Nico Rosberg.

Valtteri Bottas

The Other Finn. Cool as a cucumber but needs to rile Lewis up a bit. Famously and sensibly turned down a Ricciardo podium shoey. Owns a cat named Turbo. He likes Moomin, apparently? It’s been awhile since #BOTTAS took off–will we see the return of it this season?

Sebastian Vettel

The Finger. Does the Egyptian dance on the podium when he wins because of an inside joke with his kids. Demands blue flags over the radio. Names his cars after women. Ferrari AF. Yells “Grazie Ragazzi!” at the drop of a hat. Refuses to join social media. Lawnmowing gives him satisfaction. Mr. Honestly and Obviously.

Kimi Raikkonen

(Will) The Iceman (cometh?). Officially the oldest driver on the F1 grid. Still the last Ferrari Champion. Still the sentimental fave of many. Ex-Shampoo endorser. Most-followed Finnish racer on Instagram. Future owner of a karaoke bar. Sleep is Life. Sassy when he wants to be. Allergic to BS.

Daniel Ricciardo

The Honey Badger. Bearer of a smile that deserves a toothpaste endorsement. Currently in a limbo–this season will determine whether he stays with Red Bull or moves on to greener pastures. Occasionally does the infamous (and disgusting) shoey. Will sneakily nick your phone and take silly selfies. Friendly but ruthless. Game for practically anything.

Max Verstappen

The Great Dutch Hope. No titles in junior formulae or in F1 (yet), but already has grandstands named after him in various GPs. F1 Legacy Kid, but already surpassed the achievements of his opinionated (i.e. annoying) father. Likes to annoy the Ferrari drivers. Horner’s fave. Prince of Social Media Polls. Plays video games a lot.

Sergio Perez

Got caught with a facial expression that launched many memes. He used to be a McLaren driver. New dad. (Alleged) Tom Cruise doppelganger. His Mission (Impossible): To keep his highly-rated teammate behind him at all costs.

Esteban Ocon

Monsieur (O)Consistency. Has the longest name among the 2018 drivers: Try saying Esteban Jose Jean-Pierre Ocon-Khelfane 5 times in a row. Not afraid to rub his teammate the wrong way (on-track, at least). Tipped by many to get at least a podium finish this year. Likes to post gym photos and videos. Nice to fans. Eerily looks like someone famous–if you can figure out who, please let me know.

Nico Hulkenberg

The (Not Yet So) Incredible Hulk. Is this the year he finally gets a podium finish? Needs to deliver so he can shake off those unwanted F1 records. He won Le Mans, so there’s that. Occasionally puts foot in mouth with his statements on controversial issues. The Tall One. Impressive hair. Not a fan of Kevin Magnussen.

Carlos Sainz Jr.

Had Renault and Toro Rosso fighting over him. Can you blame them? Alonso fanboy. Possible heir to Alonso? He makes helmet hair look good. Lowkey fella. His (racing and hair) rivalry with Hulkenberg should be an interesting one. Not afraid to eat out alone. Dates himself because he’s worth it.

Romain Grosjean

Monsieur Snitch/Monsieur Savage–Depending on which driver he’s discussing with Charlie Whiting. Takes his GPDA role very seriously. Likes to cook in his spare time. Doesn’t crash during first laps anymore. Still has his sights set on a Ferrari drive.

Kevin Magnussen

Told Hulkenberg to suck his balls on live tv. Gives 0 f*cks about what other drivers think of him. Another F1 Legacy Kid. People forget he once got P2. New Dubai resident. Not a fan of oysters.

Fernando Alonso

The Best Driver on the Grid. Or so his fans say. This year will be his year. Another thing his fans say. Most Distinctive Eyebrows in F1. Second oldest driver on the grid. Will be unfaithful to F1 several times this season to chase an elusive motorsport victory. Sticks Kimoa decals on a lot of things. Generally a good sport about his questionable career choices. He once sat on a deck chair and turned social media batshit crazy.

Stoffel Vandoorne

Possibly has the patience of a saint. Give him a good car already! Handles Alonso like a champ. Silent waters run deep. Difficult to dislike. He may be Belgian, but he’s not a waffle fan.

Pierre Gasly

Circle game aficionado. Don’t look at his hands when he posts a photo or a video. Got denied a Super Formula title by a typhoon. Benedict Cumberbatch lookalike. Decent at bellydancing. Nicknamed his car Gasmobile. Already affectionately messing with his teammate.

Brendon Hartley

Look, a Kiwi! Super chill and laidback. Made a surprise “comeback” to F1. Again, a Kiwi: Don’t put the Aussie flag next to his name. Has an interesting hairstyle history (search his old pics on Twitter).

Lance Stroll

Grumpy Richie Rich? Didn’t pay much attention to what Felipe Massa taught him. Got one back on Jacques Villeneuve when he managed a podium in Baku last year. CBA with Twitter, stays mainly on Instagram. Couldn’t do a royal wave as well as Nico Rosberg.

Sergey Sirotkin

Not Robert Kubica. Also not a bad driver but will always have the bad rap of preventing the Kubica Comeback. Missed out on a Renault seat. Must overcome the label of Pay Driver.

Marcus Ericsson

“Why is he still here?” Not Pascal Wehrlein. Must perform well or risk being overshadowed by a rookie. His helmet design this year is retro decent, though.

Charles Leclerc

Hype! The rookie to watch out for. Self-confessed Harry Potter lookalike. Can he work magic in F1? Fave of the teenage girls and Mums alike. He’s not French, he’s Monégasque. Kimi Raikkonen and Ferrari fanboy. Chronic liker of tweets.

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So who among the 20 will emerge as the ultimate victor? Who will surprise and who will disappoint? Who will shatter their narratives and rewrite their stories? Only way to find out is to stay tuned (and online). Don’t get left in the dust!

Go Big Or Go Home*: The 2015 F1 Night Race Trip Diary.

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(*50 Shades of Red was the alternate title for this post, but I realized that not everyone will be able to appreciate the humor in that, so…)

The year 2012 was the last time I attended the F1 Night Race in Singapore, so to say I was excited to be back would be a major understatement.

Actually, I have Kimi Raikkonen to blame/thank for all of this. Why? See, I initially thought 2015 would be Kimi’s last year in Formula One, what with all the “not-so-good luck” and uncertainties surrounding him. I wouldn’t be able to forgive myself if I didn’t go see him race live in Ferrari colors again, and so I bit the bullet and booked the flights and race tickets (as well as convinced 2 of my non-F1 supporter childhood friends to come with me to Singapore) as early as February 2015.

Now if you are a regular reader of this blog, you already know that this is a lengthy post. I like to include most—if not all—of the inane details because it just wouldn’t be me if this was in any way abridged. If you’re new, a warm welcome and prepare yourself for quite a ride (pun very much intended):

Friday, 18 September: Just DO It!

Unlike my previous GP trips, I had to delay my arrival in Singapore this year because September 17 is my Mom’s birthday, and it goes without saying that I had to be present at the family celebrations (Daughter of the Year right here!). As a result, I had to miss a lot of the PR events attended by the drivers, most notably Kimi Raikkonen’s UPS Event outside Raffles City Mall that Thursday, but it wasn’t such a big deal for me because…I had a plan.

I was brimming with too much excitement to even attempt to get some sleep, and I’ve always been an insomniac anyway, so after having breakfast at midnight at home, I went straight to the airport and was checked-in at 03:00 for my 05:40 flight. The most curious thing that happened during my flight was that my expensive, precision timepiece suddenly stopped working just as the plane took off. I stared at it incredulously, shook and prodded it, to no avail. I’ve worn that wristwatch for all of the GPs I’ve attended and this was the first time it failed me! And why am I telling you this? The brand of the watch is actually a major sponsor of a huge F1 team, one that is currently struggling. Oh, the irony. Moral of the story: Bring an extra wristwatch if you’re a stickler for time like me.

I arrived at Singapore around 09:00, breezed through passport control, collected my luggage and paused to exchange currencies and to buy a local SIM card for my internet needs. I was supposed to contact my Airbnb host through Viber upon my arrival, but for some reason, the internet just wouldn’t work on my mobile phone! I tried to send an SMS through my other mobile phone but my international roaming service (which I activated the day before) was not working, either. Man, the effects of Mercury Retrograde were already pummeling me. I spent nearly an hour and a half trying to get the internet to work with the assistance of the foreign exchange shop personnel, and by the time it finally worked I was so exhausted I just wanted to pass out (and maybe eat).

All those tech glitches were forgotten by the time I stepped out of the airport and took a taxi. It finally hit me that I was back in Singapore for the race weekend! I checked into our awesome Airbnb flat (I’m so happy my friends and I decided to try Airbnb for this trip. Seriously guys, check it out and save loads), unpacked a bit and decided to take a catnap (at that point, I’ve been awake for 24 hours straight). An hour later, I woke up and decided to head to Orchard Road to have a bite to eat and for a bit of shopping.

Curiously, there wasn’t much of a racing-related atmosphere when I got to Orchard Road. I was so used to seeing loads of F1-related shops and activities strewn along the area during the previous years so I was a bit disappointed at their absence this year. Perhaps they were moved to a different part of the city? I had little time to contemplate and immediately deployed Shopping Mode instead.

However, I got a bit carried away (I blame Sephora and the Kinokuniya bookstore!) and before I knew it, it was already 5pm and I haven’t claimed my race tickets yet, let alone eaten properly! I considered bringing along my shopping bags with me to the track but ultimately decided against it because they were too heavy, so I had to make a quick pit stop to our flat before I can get my race tickets. Argh. Free Practice 1 starts at 6pm and I’m still in an Orchard Road bus stop at 5:15pm. The clock is ticking!

When I finally got to Swissotel Stamford, the race ticket collection center, I had another reality check: The queue for ticket collection was massive! Apparently, other race fans had too much of the TGIF spirit in them and waited until the last minute to collect their tickets, too. I could only sigh in resignation as I fell in line and waited for my turn. My only consolation was that without my wristwatch, I couldn’t tell how much of FP1 I was already missing. Oh, and I saw a Rob Smedley doppelganger. Silver linings and all…

So I’m following the map that leads to you…

So I’m following the map that leads to you…

At last, I got my race tickets! I then barreled outside and hurried my way towards Gate 3, but not without a mini pause outside to thank the racing gods for bringing me here safely after a 2-year hiatus. I am back, baby!

Premier Walkabout Tickets yet again! The best bargain for someone like me who doesn’t like sitting still for long periods of time.

Premier Walkabout Tickets yet again! The best bargain for someone like me who doesn’t like sitting still for long periods of time.

Reporting for duty after a 2-year hiatus!

Reporting for duty after a 2-year hiatus!

Friday Ticket

Finally inside the track!

Unfortunately, as soon as I stepped inside the track, I heard the Practice Session got red-flagged due to an incident. Not even that could dampen my spirits as I immediately headed to the merchandise stalls, got myself Vettel and Raikkonen Ferrari caps, busied myself taking in the sights and sounds all around me and perused the circuit map, trying to formulate my plan of attack for FP2.

So expensive…but so sexily scarlet!

So expensive…but so sexily scarlet!

Fri F1 Merch Stall

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A stall selling headphones with live commentary.

A stall selling headphones with live commentary.

Wayfinding made easier.

Wayfinding made easier.

The Porsche Carrera Cars took the track just after F1 FP1.

The Porsche Carrera Cars took the track just after F1 FP1.

My friend HM, who arrived in Singapore around 18:00, was supposed to meet me for dinner at Raffles City, but she got a bit lost on the way to our Airbnb flat so we had to cancel our dinner plans. I have not had anything except water and a couple of crackers at that point, and the queues at the food stalls I passed were quite long, so I just decided to make the trek to Zones 2 and 1 early so I can check out the views before FP2 started.

One of my favorite “chill spots” inside the track is the area around the Singapore Flyer, and that’s where I ended up just before FP2, resting my tired legs and eating a small cup of gelato as my first “meal” of the day. Reasonably energized, as soon as FP2 started, I was ready to go.

Once I heard the sound of the V6 engine in person, I have to admit that it gave me goosebumps. Of course, it doesn’t have a patch on the roar of the V8 engines, but if you’re a legitimate racing fan, then certain engine sounds will always get to you. I found it half-amusing and half-disappointing that I really didn’t need to wear earplugs anymore while watching FP2 (don’t imitate Aunt Marj kids, her eardrums have been hardened by time already), but hey, that issue has already been flogged to death so I’ll let it go.

FP2 from the viewing platform opposite the T21 straight.

FP2 from the viewing platform opposite the T21 straight.

FP2 from the viewing platform with free seating reserved for Premier Walkabout Ticket holders opposite the T21 straight, with a widescreen TV.

FP2 from the viewing platform with free seating reserved for Premier Walkabout Ticket holders opposite the T21 straight, with a widescreen TV.

FP2 from the viewing area near the pit entry.

FP2 from the viewing area near the pit entry.

FP2 from the viewing platform opposite the T23 straight, in front of the Pit Building. The fellas were looking the other way because there’s a widescreen TV behind the platform.

FP2 from the viewing platform opposite the T23 straight, in front of the Pit Building. The fellas were looking the other way because there’s a widescreen TV behind the platform.

I hopped around different viewing spots and finally got around to reaching the viewing platforms just in front of the pit exit. What is incredibly cool about that area is that it allows the fans to see the cars really close as they zoom down the straight, and with the cars emanating sparks at that area, the spectacle just gets better! I almost felt like I was going to get hit on the face with sparks at certain points—luckily, it didn’t happen but if I had to take one for the team, then so be it!

Also, I finally got to see the drivers do practice starts—which was strangely mesmerizing. I had to constantly remind myself to keep my mouth closed lest I look like a crazed fan while ogling the cars just mere meters in front of me.

Hello, Kimi!

Hello, Kimi!

Hello, Seb!

Hello, Seb!

When FP2 ended, I again decided to get something to eat, but the food stalls I passed just didn’t pique my interest, so I decided to go back to the Singapore Flyer area and just get food from there. Imagine my shock and trepidation when I reached that area and found that all the food stalls were already closed! Worse, I checked my water bottle and saw that I was down to my last 3 inches of water. And I’m still planning to stay inside the track for at least a couple of hours. No bueno.

Dejectedly, I slumped down on one of the benches in the deserted food court and carefully rationed my water to avoid dehydration. I considered going to the Zone 4 Padang Stage to catch Pharell’s concert and get some nourishment there, but my internal battery was already running low so I decided to stay put and recharge. When midnight hit, I finally stood up and went to the area outside the Paddock Entrance, saying a silent prayer to the racing gods to make the wait for the drivers quick and painless.

Surprisingly, there were only a small number of fans gathered outside the Paddock Entrance, most of them Japanese fans. I settled in a spot just behind a white plastic barrier, chatted a bit with an Australian girl (who’s a Ricciardo fan) and tried to talk to a couple of Japanese Toro Rosso fangirls but we just ended up smiling at each other a lot due to the language barrier.

So without further ado, here’s the rundown of who I saw/met during my Friday Paddock Vigil:

(Sidebar: I know that selfies are the new autographs for this generation, but I’m old school and I hate taking selfies so I stuck with a good old notebook and a Sharpie pen for autographs.)

Making good use of this cool mini notebook! This is part of the goody bag I got from Singapore GP when I won one of their pre-race social media competitions.

Making good use of this cool mini notebook! This is part of the goody bag I got from Singapore GP when I won one of their pre-race social media competitions.

First notable person out was 1997 WDC and now Formula E driver Jacques Villeneuve. Amusingly, he was “blanked” by the fans and was allowed to walk away freely. To be fair though, he was busy talking on his mobile phone and barely looked at us.

Claire Williams and Susie Wolff: Super nice ladies who took the time to sign everything and took selfies with whoever requested for it. Gamely chatted with the fans, too. And yes, they are both very pretty in person.

Claire Williams.

Claire Williams.

SigCWilliams

Susie Wolff

Susie Wolff

SigSWolff

Martin Brundle, David Coulthard and Eddie Jordan: The three came out together and even though Jordan and Coulthard didn’t look to be in the mood to interact with fans, they got into it anyway when Brundle stopped to take selfies and sign autographs. Brundle was the nicest and most interactive.

Brundle

Brundle

SigMBrundle

I thought I got a better (and closer) pic of DC, but I apparently I didn’t. Oops.

I thought I got a better (and closer) pic of DC, but I apparently I didn’t. Oops.

SigDCoulthard

Eddie Jordan wearing a non-colorful shirt?!

Eddie Jordan wearing a non-colorful shirt?!

SigEJordan

Toto Wolff: The ladies shrieked like schoolgirls when they saw him, I kid you not. It was hilarious, but totally understandable, because Toto does look quite dashing in person. He accommodated everyone’s request, and after he signed for me and said “You’re welcome” to my “Thank you”, I had to fight giggles because I so badly wanted to ask him, “Can you please say ‘I’ll be back’?”

Paddock Wolff

SigTWolff

Will Buxton: For someone I haven’t seen before in person, I immediately recognized this, er…very polarizing (at least for F1 fans on Twitter) journalist. I was a bit disappointed that he wasn’t wearing colorful trousers. He chatted with a group of Japanese fans about gifts and snacks and moon cakes that they apparently give him on a regular basis.

Animatedly discussing food (among other things) with fans.

Animatedly discussing food (among other things) with fans.

Karun Chandhok: Didn’t say much, signed and took selfies with whoever requested for them.

Paddock Chandhok

SigKChandhok

Just when I decided to take the tiniest sips of water, out came Kimi Matias Raikkonen. In the wheel of his usual golf cart. Naturally all the fans screamed, “KIMIIIIII!!!!” as he zoomed out. I didn’t even get to take a photo of him as I suddenly froze and just stared at his face (yeah, still gorgeous). Actually, I vaguely remember yelling “HI, KIMI!” to him as he passed by. He did raise his hand, waved and (Kimi-)smiled at us before his very speedy exit. Sigh. Always leaving us wanting more. Damn you, Kimi.

Esteban Gutierrez: He looks younger in person. Quite smiley. Chatted with fans a bit longer, considering that most of us gathered there were clear Ferrari fans. We spoke in Spanish, mainly “Por favor/Gracias” (Me) and “De nada.” (Him).

Paddock Guti

SigEGuti

Eric Boullier: Initially reluctant to approach the fans but got convinced by all the “Eric!! Please?” requests that he heard. Left quickly.

Paddock Boullier

SigEBoullier

James Allen: The Australian guy next to me mistook him for another journalist Tom Clarkson, but before I got the chance to correct him he was already in our area and was taking selfies with the Aussie guys. He even chatted with them about Ferrari engines and F1 gossip. I wanted to tell him, “Hey, you once followed me on Twitter!”

Paddock Allen

Mark Arnall: Kimi Raikkonen’s long-time personal trainer and friend, for those who don’t know him. I can’t recall if he was with Kimi in the golf cart earlier and he just came back to the paddock again or whether that was a completely different guy with Kimi in the cart. Anyway, he was super nice to the Ferrari fans and promised to pass on all the good luck wishes of the fans to the Iceman himself.

Paddock Arnall

Romain Grosjean: I saw him last time in 2012 but didn’t get the chance to get his autograph. This year, he wasn’t in a hurry and seemed to be in a better mood, signing everything and completing all selfie requests.

Paddock Grosjean

SigRGro

Maurizio Arrivabene: Part Two of ladies (And yes, even gentlemen) shrieking unabashedly when they saw him. He cuts a distinguished (don’t-mess-with-This-Boss) air in person. He looks quite scary and intimidating but signed everything and took selfies with everyone. When it came my turn, I held my notebook out to him, he took my pen, stared at me (Why?! What did I do?! –my paranoid side was screaming in my head), slowly took my notebook from my hands, laid it on top of the barrier, signed it, stared at me again, and returned my things. For a few moments there, I seriously thought he was going to scold me/yell at me for some unknown reason. It was a miracle I managed a “Thank you.” He stared at me again and said, “Welcome” before walking away. I only realized I was holding my breath the entire time when he has gone. That man sure knows how to make his presence felt!

Paddock Arrivabene

SigMArrivabene

Britta Roeske: A group of Ferrari fans called out to her for autographs and photos, but it’s clear Sebastian Vettel’s PR maven has her feet firmly on the ground as she shyly replied, “But I’m not a celebrity! Sebastian will sign everything, don’t worry!” before saying goodbye to all.

Paddock Britta

Christian Horner: Wasn’t very chatty, bordering on formal, even. Still, he signed everything and gamely took selfies. I had to bite my tongue and not go, “Please say hi to Ginger Spice for me. Girl Power!!”

Paddock Horner

SigCHorner

Will Stevens: Took a few selfies, signed some stuff and bypassed the rest.

Paddock Stevens

Lewis Hamilton: He was going to take a car out of the paddock. Some fans spotted him exiting so they all ran towards him and surrounded him. He finished signing and taking selfies before getting into his ride (a Mercedes, of course).

Paddock Hamilton

There’s Lewis in the middle, surrounded by fans.

Pastor Maldonado: Seemed in good spirits. Took a few selfies, signed a few things and bypassed the rest.

Paddock Maldonado

Fernando Alonso: Surprisingly interacted with zero fans. Fans went berserk when they saw him exiting briskly on foot, but as soon as he heard the commotion, he took out his mobile phone, “made a call” and went, “No, no, NO!” at fans who hounded him in hopes of getting selfies and autographs. Disappointing.

Max Verstappen: He looks even younger in person. When I was getting his autograph, I had to fight the urge to giggle because I cannot believe I’m getting the signature of this 17-year old kid who’s not even a boyband member but is a bona fide racing driver. Not very smiley.

Paddock Verstappen

SigMVerstappen

Valtteri Bottas: Didn’t say much initially but signed everyone’s things and took selfies patiently. Funny thing: Australian Guy Number 1 asked Bottas whether he thinks his friend (Australian Guy Number 2, who was standing beside him) looks like him. Bottas stared at the friend, smiled and said, “A little bit.” They could be brothers, really, except that Aussie Guy No.2 happens to be a foot taller than Bottas.

Paddock Bottas

SigVBottas

Bottas signed my notebook upside down. Haha.

Felipe Massa: Exited the paddock on foot and headed straight to a car waiting for him. He stopped though when the fans ran towards him and gamely signed and posed for photos. I asked a fellow fan when she came back, “Is Rob Smedley with him?!” Alas, he wasn’t.

Carlos Sainz: Interacted with the fans well. The object of affection of the Japanese girls beside me (with their Toro Rosso and Sainz banners) so he spent most of his time with them.

Part 2 of “I thought I had a better pic of him, but apparently I didn’t. Oops.”

Part 2 of “I thought I had a better pic of him, but apparently I didn’t. Oops.”

SigCSainz

Nico Hulkenberg: There was a bit of a lull after Sainz, so when Hulkenberg came out, you can just imagine how much the ladies shrieked again. I can’t blame them though, even my sleepy self was awakened at the sight of him because he looks so darn good in person. He was in high spirits, and it took quite a while for him to get to our area because nearly everyone ahead took multiple selfies/photos with him. By the time he reached me, he was still bantering with some of the fans, and when I thanked him, he wiggled his eyebrows at me and went, “Good luck!!” Um. Wait, what? Before I could reply, other Japanese fans had dragged him away for photos, so I was left wondering, “What the hell was that good luck all about?!”

Paddock Hulkenberg

SigNHulk

Nico Rosberg: The award for “best interaction with fans” goes to this driver, hands down. He not only signed all the stuff and took multiple selfies and photos, he also gave hugs to whichever fan requested for them and took his time to converse with fans. When he was signing for me, I noticed he kept looking at my right wrist (where I wear several bracelets), and even bent down to have a closer look at it after I took my pen back. He finally asked me, “Is that the one?” and thankfully, my brain quickly pieced together things and realized that he was asking whether I was one of the lucky fans he gave a Thomas Sabo bracelet to the day before in an event (he was apparently referring to my pink crystal bracelet). I replied, “Oh no, it’s not.” He laughed and said, “Yeah, it’s not. Sorry.” After that, he stayed for a while to chat with two massive Rosberg fans beside me who were practically melting with sheer joy.

Paddock Rosberg1

Paddock Rosberg2

Nico pausing to chat with a couple of his superfans. Wait, does that mean I’m in the background of the pic his assistant/companion took right there?!

SigNRosberg

Marcus Ericsson: Not too chatty, but nice to the fans. Gave me a smile when I wished him good luck. He should smile more often.

Paddock Ericsson

SigMEricsson

Felipe Nasr: He looked a bit tired but brightened up at the warm reception of fans. Took his time signing and taking photos.

Paddock Nasr

SigFNasr

Sergio Perez: Mr. Perfect Teeth in the flesh again. He’s still as smiley and warm to the fans as ever.

Paddock Perez

SigSPerez

Sidebar: Stoffel Vandoorne and Alexander Rossi were also both stunners in person. Yeah, I said it. Perhaps we ladies should hold score cards from 1-10 and rate the drivers as they exit. Just kidding! Also, I’m still amazed at how…vertically-challenged most people in F1 are. I’m of average height myself, and for the longest time, I had this perception that most of them are taller than they actually are (barring some exceptions like Hulk, DC, Arrivabene). Anyway, this isn’t a diss, just an observation, much like TV makes people look older because they all look so much younger in person.

And so 03:00 has come and gone and a certain Sebastian Vettel of Scuderia Ferrari was still MIA. At that point, I was operating on only an hour’s worth of sleep and the last “meal” I had (a cup of gelato) was more than 6 hours ago. Have I mentioned that my water supply’s nearly gone? Some fans have given up and left, and I seriously contemplated following suit. But I’m not a quitter, and I reminded myself that my main objective for that day was meeting Vettel again, so I just have to suck it up and deal with the wait. I sat on the ground, stretched my legs, checked Twitter for a bit, people-watched to pass the time. Still no Seb. I looked up, stared at the Flyer, imagined the refreshing shower, bed and unlimited drinking water waiting for me back at homebase. The Australian guys were already lying down on the makeshift platform next to me, and I had to hand it to them because while my body clock was on the same time zone as Singapore, theirs were on +3hrs, so technically it was already past 06:00 for them! I stood up and decided to make small talk with a Chinese girl next to me, who took the place of the Japanese Toro Rosso girls who already left. She asked me who I was still waiting for and when I said Vettel, she brightened up and said we’re on the same boat. We chatted a bit about Kimi and Ferrari, and I made her laugh by joking that I’m willing to sleep in the area just to wait for Vettel and by occasionally (half-jokingly) yelling, “Seb!!! Where are you?!!!” in the direction of the paddock exit. Still no Seb. “We can do this!”, I assured my new comrade. “Stay with me, okay?”

Timecheck: 04:00. Finally, after what seemed like several eternities in purgatory, we heard a commotion at the front of the queue, and I asked the much taller (and now fully awake and vertical) Australian guys, “Who is it? Is it Seb?!” and one of them replied, “Yes, Seb’s one of them!” Turns out Sebastian Vettel came out with the two Red Bull drivers, Daniel Ricciardo and Danill Kvyat.

I didn’t even get to take proper photos of Ricciardo and Kvyat, as I was focused on monitoring Vettel’s movements. He signed things and took selfies wih a lot of the fans at the front of the queue, and I thought, surely Seb will finish the whole queue, right?

This horrible pic of Daniel Ricciardo is proof that I was too busy monitoring Vettel’s movements to even check the focus on my camera!

This horrible pic of Daniel Ricciardo is proof that I was too busy monitoring Vettel’s movements to even check the focus on my camera!

But then, as Seb got to the middle part, he suddenly walked faster and went, “Bye, guys!” Oh, hell no. You are not leaving without signing for me! Luckily, the leftover fans spilled over the barrier and swarmed Seb, blocking his way, so he stayed and patiently signed the things handed to him. I don’t even clearly remember hopping over the barrier, but I do remember suddenly standing in front of him, asking him to sign my race ticket (forget the notebook, he gets the honor of signing my ticket!). I thanked him, got an, “Okay” and moved away to give the other fans access to him. That commotion allowed the Red Bull drivers to make their quick exits, but some lucky fans still got their signatures and selfies through sheer persistence.

Vettel’s signature! Mission: Accomplished!

Vettel’s signature! Mission: Accomplished!

With Vettel finally completing my wishlist, my adrenaline level promptly came crashing down, and it was high time for me to finally leave the track. I bade a quick farewell to my Chinese friend (I never got to ask her name, silly me!), asked a security personnel to direct me to the nearest exit, and off I went.

After a couple of idiotic attempts at navigating my way out (Note: Do not Instagram while doing so), and several minutes of frantic arm-waving to taxis, I was at last on the way back to homebase. Amusingly, my driver kept me awake by chatting to me about F1 (or rather, his lack of knowledge of it), and even threw some pick-up lines at me (Who even attempts to flirt at past 4 am?). Before I alighted, I urged him to give F1 a try and to pray for a Vettel or Raikkonen Ferrari win on Sunday. One more prayer couldn’t hurt, right?

(During the taxi ride, I suddenly realized that Jenson Button hasn’t come out yet by the time most of us fans left. I originally wanted to get a couple of his signatures as 2 of my friends have crushes on him, but really, I’ve already pushed my body to its limit for the day, so…sorry, girls! Maybe next time!)

I got back at our Airbnb flat at around 4:40am, immeasurably exhausted, hungry and dehydrated, but still smiling at the sheer madness of my day. I stripped out of my sticky clothes, showered, downed a bottle of water and properly passed out in bed at 6:00am. Until tomorrow/later, F1 circus.

My pedometer reading. That’s the number of steps I took for the entire day.

My pedometer reading. That’s the number of steps I took for the entire day.

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Saturday, 19 September: Taking It Easy(ish).

With the “Paddock Vigil” officially crossed out of my To Do List, I promised myself I’d take it easy for Saturday. My friend and I woke up late, left the flat at mid-afternoon and went to Orchard Road for a super late lunch and a bit of shopping (I finally got a new wristwatch. Yay!). At half past 5, I bade her farewell and went to the track, not wanting to be late for FP3 this time around. The former Gate 7 that I so often used in the past had been turned into Gate 8, and that was the entrance I used for the day. I loitered around Zone 4 for a bit, saying “hello” to my beloved Turn 14, before deciding to make the early trek towards Zones 2 and 1 in preparation for Qualifying. I made a pit stop at Zone 3 and watched the latter part of FP3 via a super clear widescreen. The Ferraris looked strong and the Mercedes cars looked off-pace. Say what? I was almost scared to hope but what have I got to lose? Anyway, post-FP3, I snooped around the Simulator Challenge (the queue was massive so I didn’t get to try it), had my photo taken at the mini podium, and ogled the promo personnel dressed in fancy F1-related garb. I was so coveting their F1 WDC Umbrellas like you wouldn’t believe!

Sat Gate 8

FP3 from the viewing platform opposite Turn 14.

FP3 from the viewing platform opposite Turn 14.

FP3 from the viewing area opposite the Turn 14 straight.

FP3 from the viewing area opposite the Turn 14 straight.

The viewing platforms overlooking the Turn 14 Straight.

The viewing platforms overlooking the Turn 14 Straight.

FP3 from the viewing area just before Turn 15

FP3 from the viewing area just before Turn 15

Check this guy out channeling his inner Ferrari driver.

Check this guy out channeling his inner Ferrari driver.

Now that’s what I call a couple dressed to the nines!

Now that’s what I call a couple dressed to the nines!

Umbrella 2

Dear Singapore GP, please produce this umbrella as part of your official merchandise next year because I am SO buying one!

During the lull in between FP3 and Qualifying, I found myself taking refuge in the Greek Theatre near the Singapore Flyer yet again, with a cup of gelato as my “dinner”. I considered getting into the Singapore Flyer, but it wasn’t free of charge to racegoers anymore, and without any cars at the track, I wouldn’t have enjoyed the ride as much. That break also turned into a “Meet your Twitter friends portion” of the night, as I finally got to meet Peiyi (@fanpeiyi), a Singaporean native, massive RBR fan and a Race Marshal that weekend, as well as Vicky (@F1_Obsessive) and Dom (@domcovkid), a British couple who’s also first-time Night Race attendees. Follow them on Twitter, they’re awesome!

The Singapore Flyer and the (tensile roof) of the Greek Theatre. My hangouts!

The Singapore Flyer and the (tensile roof) of the Greek Theatre. My hangouts!

Chilling before QLF.

Chilling before QLF.

Counting down the minutes before QLF with my snazzy (and cheap!) new wristwatch.

Counting down the minutes before QLF with my snazzy (and cheap!) new wristwatch.

I spent Q1 chatting with the couple and watching the action from the viewing platform in front of the T21 straight. After Q1, I bade them goodbye so I can further check out the other available viewing platforms in Zones 2 and 1 that I haven’t gotten around to yet. Surprisingly, the Ferraris remained dominant, and near the dying minutes of Q3 I chose to stay in a Zone 1 viewing platform near a widescreen to get a better view of just how the Top 10 will line up. As soon as all the lap times were locked in and it was announced that the top 3 were Sebastian Vettel, Daniel Ricciardo and Kimi Raikkonen, I let out a huge “Yesss!!!!”, along with numerous other Ferrari fans in my area who also shouted, “Forza Ferrari!!” in celebration of that much-coveted pole (and 3rd place). I watched the post-Qualifying press conference and then suddenly remembered, I have a Maroon 5 concert to watch!

Q1 from the viewing platform opposite the T21 straight.

Q1 from the viewing platform opposite the T21 straight.

Spotted: Massive Kimi Raikkonen Banner. Now that’s what I call SUPPORT!

Spotted: Massive Kimi Raikkonen Banner. Now that’s what I call SUPPORT!

Q2 from the viewing platform opposite Turn 21.

Q2 from the viewing platform opposite Turn 21.

The dying minutes of Q3. I was too anxious to find out the results so I stayed near a widescreen TV!

The dying minutes of Q3. I was too anxious to find out the results so I stayed near a widescreen TV!

Forza Ferrari! Behave tomorrow, my Scarlet Boys!

Forza Ferrari! Behave tomorrow, my Scarlet Boys!

Reunited with Maroon 5!!

Reunited with Maroon 5!!

Funnily enough, the last time I saw Maroon 5 live was when they performed at the Padang Stage at the 2012 Night Race, so there was a bit of a déjà vu element to it. As usual, the lads rocked it and I sang along to most of the songs they performed—who cares if I was by myself?! Near the end of the concert, I received a text message from another friend of mine HK, that she already arrived in Singapore and that she and our other friend HM would meet me in Mustafa Centre post-concert. Never one to turn down an opportunity to shop, I headed straight to the only 24hr shopping centre in Singapore and had a grand time telling my friends about my adventures so far, and shopping, of course.

We ended up going home at around 4:00 am. So much for taking it easy for the day!

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Sunday, 20 September: I Don’t Want This Day To End!

Raceday!

For the first time ever, I had serious, legitimate pre-race nerves. Forget butterflies, I felt like I had rats in my stomach when my thoughts turned to the race. Why? Well, this was the first time that I fully felt emotionally-invested in the race result, with the Ferrari 1-3 in Qualifying the night before. With the previous Night Races I’ve attended, I’ve seen a couple of Ferrari podiums, but let’s be real, I’m not a massive fan of Fernando Alonso so they didn’t really fully hit me in the heart. My desire to see Vettel and Raikkonen in the podium for this race was so intense that it almost hurt.

However, I’m getting ahead of myself.

My friends and I went to meet our childhood friend J, her husband A and our godsons for some late lunch in Somerset. For a couple of hours, I shoved raceday to the back of my mind and just enjoyed the good food and company. However, as 5pm approached, the nerves kicked in real hard. I bade goodbye to my friends and went to the track early to scout for a good spot for the Drivers’ Parade.

Actually, who was I kidding? I knew in my heart that I would return to the same spot I stayed in last 2012, that certain viewing platform just opposite T21. To my delight, I found it sparsely-populated, as usual. Sadly, I read on Twitter that unlike the previous years, the drivers would not be riding individual vintage cars and they would all be lumped in one truck, making the parade shorter than usual. Oh, boo. During the wait, I considered making an impromptu sign to show to the drivers, something along the lines of “Wave If You’re Gonna Win”, or “Wave To Me, Damnit!” Unfortunately, I only have my collapsible fan with me and I wasn’t sure whether the drivers would even get to read it, so I scrapped that idea. Remind me to bring a proper (witty) banner next time, please.

Fast-forward to the parade and as the drivers made their way towards my area, most of them were facing the other way, and as my throat wasn’t up to screeching “Kimiiii!! Seb!!”, I stared at the back of Sebastian’s head and willed him to “Look at me!!”, and amazingly he did!

Ready for Raceday!

Ready for Raceday!

The appearance of the Safety Car means the Drivers’ Parade is about to begin!

The appearance of the Safety Car means the Drivers’ Parade is about to begin!

The drivers are coming!!

The drivers are coming!!

LOL at Rosberg’s face! I wonder what he saw that made him pull a face like that? Also, what was Grandpa Button discussing with the young drivers?

LOL at Rosberg’s face! I wonder what he saw that made him pull a face like that? Also, what was Grandpa Button discussing with the young drivers?

Part 2 of Rosberg pulling a hilarious face. Wonder what Hulk said to him? And hey, Bottas was looking at my camera!

Part 2 of Rosberg pulling a hilarious face. Wonder what Hulk said to him? And hey, Bottas was looking at my camera!

DParade 5

Look at Vettel (and Nasr, but I only “mentally compelled” Seb to do so) totally looking at my camera! And was that Kimi looking at Seb while Seb was looking at me?!

Now, a new dilemma: Where to watch the Race Start? I moved around different viewing platforms in Zone 1 prior to the warm-up lap, but I didn’t really get the view I wanted, so I opted to return to the viewing platforms in Zone 2 near the Flyer so I can check out a widescreen as well.

Sneaky peek down pitlane

A sneaky peek down the pitlane.

The queue to leave the pitlane and to take their places at the starting grid!

The queue to leave the pitlane and to take their places at the starting grid!

Leaving Pitlane 2

The back of the grid. Preparations are underway!

The back of the grid. Preparations are underway!

Vettel and Ricciardo passing by the Viewing Platforms opposite the T21 straight during the warm-up lap.

Vettel and Ricciardo passing by the Viewing Platforms opposite the T21 straight during the warm-up lap.

For the first several laps, I moved around the different viewing platforms in Zones 1 and 2, and I was staying near a widescreen yet again when the collision between Massa and Hulkenberg happened. Now I like Hulkenberg as a driver, so I couldn’t help but yell “Nooooo!!!” when I saw him hit the tyre barrier and retire after that tussle.

I stayed in this area near the T21 straight because I needed to see the Ferraris make a clean start when the lights went out!

I stayed in this area near the T21 straight because I needed to see the Ferraris make a clean start when the lights went out!

Vettel during the first few laps, exiting T21.

Vettel during the first few laps, exiting T21.

Replay of the Hulkenberg-Massa collision that took Hulkenberg out of the race.

Replay of the Hulkenberg-Massa collision that took Hulkenberg out of the race.

After that Safety Card period ended and Vettel kept the lead, I thought the race would be pretty straightforward. But, plot twist! WDC leader and defending Champion Lewis Hamilton decided to retire his Mercedes after battling with car issues for most of the race. I internally whooped (for the sake of the WDC fight guys, chill) but didn’t want to be rude to his fans who audibly groaned in the viewing platform I was staying, so I kept my poker face and just willed the Ferrari boys to stay strong until the finish.

However, there was another plot twist to the race, and no, it wasn’t from any of the racing cars: There was a track invader! Most of us in the viewing platform literally went, “WTF?!” as soon as we heard the commentators announce it, and my stomach lurched with nerves again as the Safety Car came out for the second time and diminished Vettel’s lead from Ricciardo. I swore to myself that I would hunt down whoever invaded the track and smack him silly if his stupidity in any way lost Ferrari the win/podium places! Luckily, Vettel was able to make a clean getaway from Ricciardo post-SC period, and Kimi was also able to keep a safe distance and hold 3rd.

Look at how much tyre marbles are deposited at the track by the cars!

Look at how much tyre marbles are deposited at the track by the cars!

A few laps before the end of the race, I loitered near Turn 22-23, trying to figure out where the security personnel would open up the barriers to allow the fans to enter the track after the race (that was the same area they opened up when I last went in 2012). I called the attention of a marshal passing by and asked him, and he told me that the barrier to be opened would be somewhere along the viewing platforms near the Pit Exit. I started walking/running towards that area, but still couldn’t find a clue where the barrier would be. I paused outside one of the Pit Grandstands and asked an Usher the same question I asked the marshal earlier, and he told me another thing and that the barrier to be opened would be the one near Turn 23, where I originally was! At that point, there were only 3 more laps to go in the race, so he urged me to hurry and run, which I did. On my way back, I saw a couple clad in Ferrari gear running towards the same direction as me, and when we reached the area near Turn 22, I asked the girl whether they knew where the barriers would open and she said that they were hoping it would be the area we were in. With 1 more lap to go, I was highly doubtful we were in the right area, as there were little to no activity there and there wasn’t much of a buildup of fans either, so finally, I approached a policeman and asked him. Surprise, surprise, he corroborated the answer of the marshal! Moral of the story: Listen to the officials (no offense to the Ushers but the officials are more privy to those kinds of info)! By that time, the checquered flag was already waved but I had no time to process the results yet, as I literally ran as fast as my feet would take me to that darn area. When I finally reached it, there was already a thick buildup of fans awaiting the opening of the barriers, and I literally looked like I stood under a showerhead with all of my clothes on, panting like a wet, overexcited puppy. It was at that point that the race results finally sunk in, and the combination of sheer emotions, extreme physical exhaustion, hunger and dehydration descended upon me like a wall of bricks. I felt tears pricking on my eyelids, but before I could properly emote, security finally opened up the barrier. Time to invade the track for the podium ceremonies and RUN again!

I needed to make this graphic to best show you just how far I ran to see the podium ceremonies up close! (Click on the pic to enlarge).

I needed to make this graphic to best show you just how far I RAN to see the podium ceremonies up close! (Click on the pic to enlarge).

There wasn’t a part of my body that wasn’t screaming in pain, and I seriously felt close to fainting. Still, I willed myself to carry on: You cannot miss this podium! You can die later! GO GO GO! I ran-walked-ran and made my way to the podium. When I got there just in time to hear the German-Italian anthems, the gravity of everything crashed on me and despite myself, tears freely streamed down my face. Now I’m not usually such an emotional sap, but you have to understand that this was the first time I’ve seen a Ferrari driver stand on the top step of the F1 podium in person, and even though it wasn’t Kimi Raikkonen, I’m very happy that it was Baby Schumi himself, Sebastian Vettel. Add a Kimi Raikkonen podium finish to that, and I’m in Cloud Nine. Also, I couldn’t help but remember Michael Schumacher when I heard the German-Italian anthem combination, and how I wished he’s still part of the F1 circus so I could see just how proud of Vettel he is.

I must have looked such an emotional wreck because a guy besides me asked, “Are you okay, Miss?” in such a worried tone that I had to immediately assure him, “I’m okay, thanks. Sorry, I’m just SO happy!” He could only nod, fully understanding what I meant (I hope!). Thanks for the concern, man.

Vettel P1, Ricciardo P2, Raikkonen P3. Ferrari bossed this weekend. Forza!!

Vettel P1, Ricciardo P2, Raikkonen P3. Ferrari bossed this weekend. Forza!!

Eddie Jordan interviewing race winner Sebastian Vettel.

Eddie Jordan interviewing race winner Sebastian Vettel.

Eddie Jordan interviewing P2 Daniel Ricciardo. Notice how Vettel drank his champagne again!

Eddie Jordan interviewing P2 Daniel Ricciardo. Notice how Vettel drank his champagne again!

Eddie Jordan interviewing P3 Kimi Raikkonen. A guy behind me was droning on how they should just skip Kimi because he’s so dull, and I was so tempted to back up and step on his foot, but decided against it for the sake of good karma.

Eddie Jordan interviewing P3 Kimi Raikkonen. A guy behind me was droning on how they should just skip Kimi because he’s so dull, and I was so tempted to back up and step on his foot, but decided against it for the sake of good karma.

Eddie Jordan wrapping up the podium interviews.

Eddie Jordan wrapping up the podium interviews.

The Podium Finishers pose and wave for the last time. Best Podium I’ve seen in person!

The Podium Finishers pose and wave for the last time. Best Podium I’ve seen in person!

I barely heard the podium interview (conducted by the ever-polarising Eddie Jordan), as I was too focused on staring at the drivers and taking in everything. Before I knew it, the podium ceremonies were over, but I was still compelled to do one more thing: I zigzagged my way through my fellow racing fans until I found the Start-Finish Line, went down on my knees and kissed it.

Let it never be said that I don’t know how to give thanks in style.

Leaving my mark on the track! (Lipstick: MAC Opera)

Leaving my mark on the track! (Lipstick: MAC Opera)

A very rare selfie.

A very rare selfie.

I then slowly made my way back to Zone 4, picking up tire marbles along the way, and started reflecting on just how…poignantly astounding the race weekend has been. I’ve learned that I’m physically stronger than I give myself credit for; I’ve learned that if you don’t ask, you don’t get; I’ve learned that you may encounter glitches and roadblocks along the way but things will always work out in the end, and most important, I’ve learned that when the odds are stacked against you, that’s when you must have more than a little faith.

The Singapore GP Ushers say goodbye to the racegoers. Such a sweet gesture!

The Singapore GP Ushers say goodbye to the racegoers. Such a sweet gesture!

You’ve been more than good to me this year! How can I say goodbye and leave?!

You’ve been more than good to me this year! How can I say goodbye and leave?!

My pedometer reading post-raceday. Perhaps I should train for a marathon now?!

My pedometer reading post-raceday. Perhaps I should train for a marathon now?!

I paused outside Gate 3 before exiting and thought, “Thank you, Singapore. Thank you, racing gods.”

Because really, there is no other way for me to feel about this trip other than Grateful.

And would I do this all over again? Most definitely! I may look all serious and straight-laced, but when it comes to my passions, I go absolutely all out. Go big or go home. That’s what love (of F1) can do.

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P.S:

1. I wore at least one red article of clothing per day, not only because my favourite color is red but also as a sign of support for the Scuderia Ferrari drivers. Looked like the ritual worked!

2. With all the amount of walking/running/climbing stairs that I did, perhaps I really should invest in a good pair of running shoes to wear to future GPs.

3. Yeah, my photo-taking skills still leave a lot to be desired. I’m not comfortable using my mobile phone camera for high-speed objects, so I think it’s time I upgrade my digital camera.

4. I will update my A-Z Guide to Attending the Singapore GP soon. Stay tuned!

5. If you’re interested in attending this GP next year, then feel free to leave a message here or contact me on Twitter. Looking forward to hearing from you!